"Where to, Poster Boy?"
Garik "The Face" Loran turned to his long time friend and teammate, Kell Tainer. "Where else, Demolitions Boy? Home."
"And where might that be?" Kell asked, examining his friend's expression. "Livadia, perhaps?"
Face grinned, but the other Wraith could see a trace of bitterness to it. "If it's still there, you mean."
Kell thought to himself that it would be highly unlikely not to find Livadia in one piece. The world itself was far outside the normal space ways, on the farthest rim of the Outer Rim territories. Nick-named "Fringe of the Rim", Livadia was itself a lovely world, but essentially a backwater.
And it was where Face's wife had grown up, and where the couple had a sizable estate in the mountains.
"Come on, don't think like that. Livadia's pretty far out-I don't even think the Hutts know it exists. I certainly never heard of the place before I met Erinn."
"Yeah, well...you're not worried about Tyria and Doran?" Face turned around in his seat, raising one black eybrow in question.
Kell gave him a sheepish grin. "All right, point. But ye gods Face, have a bit of faith in your wife. She's survived being married to you all these years-I don't think the Vong should present too much of a problem."
"Right." Face closed his eyes. A kaleidoscope of images flashed through his mind-his daughters, Mardi and Tonya, sitting at the kitchen table and arguing over who had the largest piece of honey cake. And for that matter, the taste of honey cakes-made from Erinn's grandmother's recipe. Mardi, tossing off a sarcastic barb at something stupid on the Holonet. Tonya asking for his assistance with her math homework.
Erinn's hand against his cheek, the warmth of her breath, the sweet scent of mint in her hair. Her body snuggled against his, the two of them safe and content, in the dark of the evening, alone in the universe. Making love to her, feeling her heart beating against his, crying out into the night. The touch of her lips on his...
Face sat up and squared his shoulders. If he kept thinking along these lines, he was going to have a rather embarassing situation on his hands.
"All right, Tainer, plot us a course to Livadia."
Present Time, Livadia
Going through her father's closet, Tonya reflected, wasn't as hard as she had anticipated.
Most of Face Loran's wardrobe was nondescript-shirts, pants, jackets. Nothing that triggered fond memories, or brought tears to her eyes. She suspected that was probably why her mother had started there.
"Fold those pants, neatly, Tonya. Don't just toss them to the side," Erinn commented, pulling a shirt out of the closet without looking.
"Ew-is that an ugly shirt!" Tonyra wrinkled her nose. "When did Dad wear that!"
Erinn glanced at the shirt in her hands. Made of black silk, it featured large insects embroidered in silver glitter thread. She snickered. "Oh, I think he had it for some acting job or something like that. Hideous, isn't it?"
"Ugh. Are we going to give it away?"
Erinn hesitated, then shook her head. "Nope. Not fair to foist it on the refugees. Maybe I can use it to scare away the lake rats or something."
Tonya laughed. Maybe everything would be all right. Mardi would cheer up, the New Republic would come back. And her father...
She stopped laughing and burst into tears.
"Tonya," Erinn begged, "Don't please? I don't want..." She bit back her own tears. "C'mon-let's go down and eat lunch." She held her hand out.
The treehouse nestled in the branches of the huge r'ark tree was her sanctuary. It was Mardi's place to brood.
Her father, along with her Uncle Adam and Uncle Wyl, had built the treehouse when Mardi was seven. It featured three rooms-one for Mardi and one for Tonya, and one small general room-and a large, wrap-around porch with a staircase that wound about the tree trunk like a ribbon. Her mother had droid painters varnish the wood and she had painted the trim in teal. Then, her parents and various family and friends had donated old, castoff furniture.
Mardi's "room" was full of her drawings, an old carved drawing table donated by Erinn, and some of her mother's old paintings. A trunk underneath the desk contained her art supplies.
Today, she didn't care about drawing. She settled into the old fashioned hammock swing out on the balcony, propping her feet up on the railing.
Mardi knew her mother had to be hurting. It wasn't like Erinn to lose her temper like that. She knew she had hurt her mother.
But I'm hurting too. Doesn't Mom get it? We miss Dad every bit as much as she does! Why does she have to take it out on us?
She closed her eyes. The only way to get away from it all was sleep. And she couldn't sleep at night.
It was too hard to sleep when you can hear your mother crying herself to sleep. When you can feel your family coming apart at the seams.
To be Continued...
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